By Danny O’Neil
See why the Seahawks were willing to trade that first-round pick?
You should now after a first round that was more remarkable for the number of playmakers who were passed over than the ones who were chosen.
There wasn’t a single running back among the first 32 players chosen on Thursday, the first time no running back was taken in the first round of an NFL Draft since 1963. Only two wideouts were picked in the first round. The first quarterback taken was E.J. Manuel at No. 16 overall, the first time since 2000 that no one at that most important position was among the first 15 selections.
And when you consider why Seattle was willing to give up its first-round pick as part of the three-pick package to acquire the right to pay Percy Harvin a small fortune, you have to consider the value of the No. 25 overall pick that Seattle sacrificed.
In this case, it was Datone Jones, a defensive lineman from UCLA who excelled as a senior under Jim Mora and tested well in February at the NFL scouting combine, but was not even an all-conference honorable mention selection as a junior for the Bruins in 2011.
Trading up to select Tavon Austin at No. 8 cost the Rams a similar amount of draft-pick compensation as what the Seahawks gave up for Percy Harvin. (AP)
And to truly understand Seattle’s willingness to give up so much to acquire Harvin, you have to look at what a similarly versatile player in this draft commanded.
Tavon Austin from West Virginia was chosen No. 8 overall, a prize the St. Louis Rams traded up for. They gave up their second- and seventh-round picks to Buffalo to move up from No. 16 to No. 8 to nab Austin before the Jets could at No. 9. The Rams and Bills also swapped third-round picks – St. Louis moving up from the 16th pick of that round to the ninth – to round out the deal.
Take a moment to consider that: The Rams essentially cashed in a first-, second- and seventh-round pick and came away with the dynamic but undersized Austin. The Seahawks gave up a first- and seventh-round pick this year and a third-rounder next year to land Harvin, who was only an MVP candidate after eight games a year ago.
Now, the comparison is not perfect. Austin is nearly four years younger than Harvin and is significantly cheaper with a rookie contract. Harvin is significantly bigger, though, and he has a proven track record.
This is not to say that Seattle got more bang for its buck than St. Louis or that the Seahawks came away with the better deal. Seattle paid through the nose for Harvin, first in the draft compensation to acquire him and then with the contract that ranks among the 10 richest for a wide receiver in the league.
The reason why the Seahawks were willing to pay that price became more evident when you saw the blue-collar tint of the first round. Three of the first four players chosen in this year’s draft were offensive tackles, and the first seven players picked all played at the line of scrimmage, either on offense or defense. There were nine offensive linemen chosen in the first round – more than any year since the NFL-AFL merger.
If Seattle was going to acquire a playmaker in this draft – someone to add to an offense with a developing young quarterback – it wasn’t going to find an instant-impact player at No. 25. Thursday’s first round made that pretty obvious.
As valuable as draft picks are in the NFL, they are only worth the player that you can ultimately choose at that spot, and when you look at the options that would have been available to Seattle had it stayed at No. 25, it’s hard not to think the Seahawks made the most of that pick by trading it away to acquire Harvin.